Get Smart About Impact: How Lean Innovation Is Accelerating Global Impact at Scale

How can nonprofits exponentially scale their impact, faster? They can start by taking a page out of the world of Lean Startup. At the 12th Annual Regional Community Partnership Forum, co-hosted by United Way NCA, we’ll be workshopping principles from Lean Startup that nonprofits can use to maximize value, growth and impact in their community work. The theme centers around “Lean Impact for Social Good” written by seasoned Silicon Valley executive  and keynote speaker Ann Mei Chang. Chang champions the three pillars of value, growth and impact when it comes to nonprofits scaling their work and creating impact that fits the size of their issues.

To be lean refers to the pace at which we learn, apply and innovate. Too often our feedback loops require data and information to be disseminated, tested, and processed before we take action. This means it takes months—sometimes even years—before there’s a sizeable response to a need. One potential setback in the nonprofit arena is that sometimes the appetite to problem-solve is offset by the risk of change. Goals are meagerly “realistic” and as a result, there’s no urgency to change direction—even when something’s not working. It’s easy to cling to a single problem instead of looking at the whole picture to develop audacious goals. The result is a shortfall on actions that can make a significant difference. 

The road to creating lean impact has a lot to do with aligning your community’s eco-system of needs with your mission. To help participants apply the methods of Lean Startup, United Way NCA and its co-conveners have partnered with the University of Maryland’s Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to simulate what it means to be lean. The workshop will walk participants through how to create a strong foundation for their mission, strategize on organizational capacity to meet the needs of the community, and identify the maximum gain your organization may offer to those seeking services. In essence, the workshop helps ensure that services are at scale with the problems they are seeking to solve.

The Community Partnership Forum will seek to teach participants how to accelerate their ability to create impact while simultaneously expanding the number of people they’re able to reach. Tickets to the April 1st forum run for $60, with a special to get two tickets for $100. The event will run from 9am-2pm at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University, with lunch provided to attendees. Ann Mei Chang will be the featured keynote speaker, followed by the workshop hosted by UMD’s Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and time in between to network. For information on getting a student discount, please contact kkrupene@gmu.edu.